December 15, 2017

Pre-Race Nervousness

Ron Saetermoe

This subject has been written about plenty of times but I thought I’d give you my take on it. First, I’ve been racing since 1983 and have done well over 100 races and I still get nervous. So, if you’re thinking the more you do this the less nervous you’ll get, you’re dreaming.

Some say the nervousness you feel is a good thing. I don’t know if it is or not. All I know is that I have it. The key thing for me is learning how to channel it and deal with it.

I find that I’m more nervous before “big” races than less important races( DUH!). Makes sense, but if you think about it rationally, this will help reduce the tension before your lesser important races. Stress before the “big” races, not the smaller ones.

Sleep is crucial to performing at your best. The problem is that it’s frequently difficult to sleep the night before a race. So here’s what I do. I aim to sleep as much as possible two nights before the race, knowing that I’m not likely to get too much sleep the night before the race. Then, you’ll at least have some energy still in the tank.

Another ploy I have is to take a nap the day before a race. Now, when I nap I’m only grabbing 20 – 30 minutes. That way it won’t keep me up later that night.

When you’re on the road and sleeping away from your own home it’s best to try to do whatever relaxes you. Go to the spa or steam room, read a book, eat your favorite comfort food, have a glass of beer or wine. Anything that will help you wind down.

So why is it important to get sleep anyway? Won’t the adrenaline carry me through the race? One of the main reasons you want to get plenty of sleep is because the body and mind repair themselves when you’re at rest. If you track your heart rate on a regular basis, notice what your heart rate is when you wake up from a morning of good sleep and another when you didn’t. You’ll find your “resting heart rate” is between 5 to 10 beats faster when you don’t get good rest.

And, yes, the adrenaline may carry you through to the finish but if you’re well rested you’ll always perform better.

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